Oscar Pistorius reads Valentine's card

22:41, Apr 15 2014
EMOTIONAL: Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius reacts during his trial at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

"Roses are red, violets are blue, today is a good day to tell you that ... I love you."

Oscar Pistorius choked back tears as he read the Valentine's Day card to the court where he is on trial for murder.

The card had been given to him by his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, just hours before he shot and killed her.

With it was a wrapped framed with photos of the couple embracing.

It was the latest piece of evidence in a trial that has gained global attention. Overnight, the prosecutor ended a brutal five-day cross-examination of the double amputee runner who faces life in prison if convicted of murder.

Pistorius insists he killed the 29-year-old law graduate and model accidentally after mistaking her for an intruder hiding behind a closed toilet door.

Under re-examination by his defence lawyer, Pistorius told the court he could not face opening the card and present for months after the fatal shooting, and only did so on Steenkamp's birthday in August.

The envelope was addressed to "Ozzy" and had "some hearts and a squiggle", Pistorius said.

The card was signed "Reeves" with a smiley face and three kisses.

Pistorius' defence team presented the card as evidence to counter the prosecution's argument the couple were not in a happy relationship at the time of the shooting.

Pistorius insists he and Steenkamp were in a loving, if fledgling, relationship, despite phone text messages read in court pointing to some arguments.

The prosecution rested after a stark summary of how it said Pistorius shot Steenkamp, insisting he killed her deliberately after an argument.

"You fired four shots through the door whilst knowing that she was standing behind the door," said prosecutor Gerrie Nel, known in South Africa as "The Pitbull" for his hectoring style of questioning.

"She was locked into the bathroom and you armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her."

The 27-year-old Pistorius responded: "That is not true."

Pistorius broke down in tears several times during the questioning, and at one point retched into a bucket on the witness stand after being shown grisly pictures of Steenkamp after the shooting on Valentine's Day last year.

He told the court he had pulled the trigger without thinking after hearing a noise behind the door, out of terror and fear that his and Steenkamp's lives were in danger.

"I was extremely fearful, overcome with a sense of terror and vulnerability," said Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby.

"I didn't think about pulling the trigger, as soon as I heard the noise, before I could think about it, I pulled the trigger."

The athlete's voice quavered as he recounted how he was "overcome with terror and despair" on finding her bloodied body slumped against the toilet after he broke down the door with a cricket bat.

"I was broken, I was overcome, filled with sadness," he told Judge Thokozile Masipa, adding he urged Steenkamp to hold on while he sought help from neighbours at his high-security Pretoria residence.

Before the shooting, Pistorius was one of South Africa's most revered sportsmen, admired for his prowess on the track using carbon-fibre prosthetics that earned him the nickname "The Blade Runner" and brought him a clutch of Paralympic medals.

The defence later moved on to question its third witness, with the trial now expected to run into next month.


'THE PITBULL': State prosecutor Gerrie Nel cross-examines Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius.

Fairfax Media